How to Strengthen your Youtube SEO
As a Digital Marketer, you should be doing everything you can to stay on top of your SEO.
But why is that?
You’re probably already aware that SEO manages where your website or page appears in the search engine rankings. So, it is important to know where you stand within your competitive environment, and against your competitors. This, in return, will give you the tools to bring your content, engagement, and business to the next level. This guide will break down primarily YouTube SEO, but if you are interested in developing your SEO skills on Google then head to this detailed blog post.
So I guess you’re wondering, “how can I build up my YouTube SEO, and reach the first page?”
If you’re trying to optimise your videos to get YouTube (and Google) ranking them, then you need to do three things:
Understand what IS WORKING
DISCOVER where there are opportunities to do better
ASSESS how your search performance is progressing over time
What to do next
From this, you should take in mind the capitalised words. These words help you think in more depth about the current state of your own ranking (its strengths and weaknesses), how this ranking can be improved, and what tools you need to ensure that the ranking will improve in the future.
YouTube is as much a social media network as it is a search engine. So optimizing content on YouTube is not only about getting the highest Google and YouTube rankings. It is also about ensuring you appear frequently in the recommended video results, and generate as much engagement (in terms of shares, likes and comments) as possible in your videos.
Overall, the goal is really about increasing visibility across both YouTube and Google for your videos. Now, you will learn how to juggle both the search and social media elements of the YouTube platform.
Are you ready to perfect your SEO skills? Well, let’s begin!
YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND WHAT SEO IS WORKING
First of all, you need to understand what is already working NOW. What this means is, you need to know how well your videos are performing in your current SEO strategy. This will allow you to get an up-to-date status of the strengths and weaknesses of your videos and SEO strategy.
But how do you find what IS working?
Well, here are six key questions to reflect on to help you with this:
How much traffic is coming to your video?
Where is this traffic coming from?
What are users searching for?
Are users clicking on your video when they see it?
Are users watching your videos, or clicking away?
What is the impact on users who watch your videos?
These are a lot of questions to deliberate over but never fear, our Social Media and Digital Marketing Agency are ready to walk you through these six steps.
HOW MUCH SEO TRAFFIC IS COMING TO YOUR VIDEO?
Here, you want to choose any one of your videos on YouTube. Then you want to focus on the metric “views”, which equates to a pageview in website analytics.
Sometimes it is hard to decipher the genuineness of your “views” since you are unaware of whether users are intending to watch your video, or if they are ignoring your videos and trying to skip past it as quickly as possible.
So, how do you find your genuine “views”?
There is an imprecise, but effective formula:
(Number of overall views x average percentage watched)
NOTE: To get this metric, you will need to pull view data from YouTube and then do the calculation yourself, as shown below.
WHERE IS THE SEO TRAFFIC COMING FROM?
Now that you have found out your educated estimation on how much genuine traffic you have, it’s time to find out where your traffic is coming from.
But how can this be done?
It’s simple! The place to find this information is on the Traffic Source Report on YouTube Analytics.
Let me breakdown this example report for you:
“External”: This refers to embedded players on other websites (usually) on your own website, links from other websites, and Google search
“YouTube Search”: This means that anyone typing something into the YouTube search bar
“Suggested Videos”: This is when a video appears in the YouTube sidebar on any watch page
“Direct or Unknown”: This is when views cannot be attributed elsewhere
“YouTube Advertising”: This is mainly advertising on InStream and TrueView ads
What should I do next?
Typically, a well-optimized video will show significant amounts of traffic from multiple different traffic sources. Also, seeing a lot of views coming from YouTube Search and Suggested Videos is a good sign as well. If these sources aren’t delivering lots of views, then your video is probably not very well optimized. In that case you should think about adjusting the title, the thumbnail and perhaps updating your content.
Don’t forget about Google too! You’ll want to see if Google Search is delivering traffic to your videos as well. To see this, click on ‘External’ and then see how much traffic is coming from Google Search.
Refer to the picture below for more guidance.
If you see that the only traffic source for a video is your own website, then this is a good indicator that your video is not performing very well on YouTube. This isn’t necessarily because the video is not well optimized. It might just be because the video itself requires too much prior context to be interesting to a YouTube audience who are typically unfamiliar with your brand.
Too much badly-performing content on your YouTube page will inevitably drag down the value of your channel more broadly.
WHAT ARE USERS SEARCHING FOR?
Up to this point, you have already learnt about the strength of your traffic in detail. In return, you should have a clear picture of how your traffic is currently doing on your chosen YouTube video.
So you should be able to confidently answer the question, “Are my YouTube videos well-optimised?” From here, you can take the appropriate steps to improve your video quality and increase traffic in the process.
Now, you need to start thinking about your audience. If you look further into the traffic sources report, you can discover precisely what users are searching for on YouTube to find your video
Remember that similar data you could get for Google keywords before (not provided), well, it’s back. But only for YouTube!
Click on ‘YouTube Search’ in the Traffic Sources Report. You will see another screen which details the keywords searched, and the number of views generated. This data can be viewed over time for when you are ready to assess your search performance.
This data can be extremely useful! It can help you work out what types of terms are driving traffic, and thereby inform your creative strategy and content planning.
ARE USERS CLICKING ON THE VIDEO WHEN THEY SEE IT?
You’re well on your way to mastering the skills to truly understanding how your audience view you, and how to strengthen this.
You can determine how many users click on your video by using the “impressions click-through rate” data (CTR). This metric essentially tells you how often your video is clicked vs how often it is shown across YouTube search and suggested videos.
Ideally, this metric should be going up over time, and be correlated with average view duration. So be sure to keep an eye on this during your SEO journey.
Also, it is important to know that if both trend lines are moving up and to the right then this means that users are interested in your videos when they see them. As well as this, this also tells you if they are watching the videos when they click through them.
Note: This metric can change quite wildly if there is a sudden drop-off in the number of impressions a video is getting. For example, if YouTube stops ranking a specific keyword then make sure to keep an eye on this. Map the impressions against the impressions click-through rate. You want to see the impressions staying steady or increasing, and the CTR increasing with it.
Fluctuation occurs a lot across niches and topics, but generally, anything above a 10% impression click-through rate is good. If you seem to have a low or decreasing impression click-through rate, then this is a clear indication that something isn’t working.
Read the SEO Data
One possibility is that your thumbnails are not doing the job they are supposed to, so try and think about it. Maybe consider adding more colour, making any text bigger, and perhaps including a better or more expressive photograph. Another possibility for a low impression click-through rate could also be because of a bad video title. For YouTube SEO, video titles need to attract clicks more than they need to match various keywords. So, reflect over changing your title as well if things aren’t looking too good.
Once you’ve made some changes to your thumbnail or title, go back into YouTube Analytics and track this metric over time. If the changes you’ve made have been positive then you should see the impression click-through rate trending upwards.
ARE USERS WATCHING THE VIDEO, OR CLICKING AWAY
It is important to acknowledge your engagement in more depth. For instance, how many people are watching my videos until the end, but how many have been clicking off midway through? The best way to get an answer to these questions is by looking at the engagement graph for an individual video within YouTube Analytics.
This graph shows you where users are dropping off, and where they are continuing to watch. The ideal graph looks like a flat line. Where you see dips, this is an indication that the video is not capturing the attention of the audience sufficiently.
Most videos see a small drop at the start and finish, but you should aim for these to be less pronounced. This can be done by creating content with a punchy, compelling opening, and a clear call-to-action at the end. If there are stark dips in the middle then this tells you that this particular part of the video is turning users away, or making them skip to later points in the video.
So focus your attention on what’s keeping your audience engaged, and get rid of the aspects of your videos that turn users away. Refer to the graph below for an example of bad engagement within a video.
Next about SEO
Alongside this, the engagement graph, “average percentage viewed” is a metric that really tells you how well a video is performing relative to your other videos, and videos globally.
Basically, 50% is the benchmark for average performance within a 3-10 minute video. Longer videos will tend to have a lower average percentage viewed.
For shorter videos (10 minutes or below): 65% retention or more is excellent, 50% is good, 35-50% is not so good, and 35% or below is poor.
However, for longer videos (10 minutes or above), 50% retention or more is excellent, 35% is good, 20-35% is not so good, and below 20% is poor.
WHAT IS THE IMPACT ON USERS WHO WATCH THE VIDEO?
We have reached the final question on understanding what is working within you own YouTube SEO. I hope that you are well on your way to creating a pristine analytical strategy that will help keep you high up in the search engine ranking.
For this final question there are two metrics that you should care about: “watch time” and “subscribers acquired from the video”.
Watch time basically tells you how long users are spending watching our videos. It can sometimes be ineffective, as it can be inflated by lots of low-quality views secured through advertising. Nevertheless, it acts as a good relative metric for comparing the impact different videos are having in relation to one another.
If we assume that time spent with our content translates into brand engagement and affinity, then we can use this metric as a proxy for assessing how compelling your videos are to your audience.
In YouTube Analytics, you can find the watch time for any individual video (and your channel as a whole). Maybe you should consider mapping your “watch time” against views to get a more nuanced perspective.
If you see the views go up dramatically whilst the watch time stays largely the same, then this tells you that the new views you’re getting are not particularly high quality. Refer to the image below for more guidance.
The second metric which will demonstrate how impactful you are to your audience is the “subscribers acquired from the video”. This can be accessed via the ‘Subscription Source Report’ when browsing the channel analytics. By clicking on ‘YouTube watch page’, you can see how many subscribers have been driven from each individual video. This data is most useful when exported and brought into a different platform, so you can compare other metrics on an individual video level. Refer to the image below for more guidance.
Now you have the tools to evaluate your own YouTube analytics in depth. Make sure to reflect over these six questions carefully and thoughtfully. This will help you come to a genuine conclusion in regards to your traffic, engagement, and impact on the audience.
So, what’s next?
CHANNEL PERFORMANCE IN YOUTUBE
When measuring the success of your YouTube SEO across your channel more holistically, you should always be finding more opportunities in order to mould the direction of your engagement and performance. The two questions you should think about are:
How frequently are users returning to videos on the channel?
Where is the traffic coming from?
These questions will allow you to become the agent of your own YouTube performance. This is because you will acknowledge how to guide and examine your engagement efficiently and meticulously. So when you are faced with any struggles you will have the tools to overcome them.
Now, let me breakdown these questions for you further.
HOW FREQUENTLY ARE USERS RETURNING TO VIDEOS ON THE CHANNEL?
To do this, you can take a look at the ‘Audience Tab’ in the YouTube Analytics main dashboard. Just like website analytics, you want to see an increase in both new and returning visitors, ideally at similar rates. As shown below.
If you see new visitors growing for an extended period but not translating into returning visitors, you can probably conclude that your channel value proposition is not as strong as it ought to be.
If that happens, then you might want to think about reframing your offering on YouTube. You could publish new types of content or use cards to encourage users to stick around and watch more of your content after they’ve finished one video.
WHERE IS THE TRAFFIC COMING FROM?
Traffic is vital at an individual video level, but it can also tell a compelling story when you begin to witness the bigger picture. Ideally, you want to see a significant portion (if not the majority) of your traffic coming from YouTube Search, Suggested Videos, and Google Search.
If this isn’t the case, then you are not making YouTube work for you as a platform, instead, you are relying on other marketing channels (usually your website) to drive all of your engagement to YouTube. Successful YouTube channels grow their audience based primarily on their platform. So, you want to see YouTube-based traffic sources increasing over time.
Refer to the graph below for more guidance.
The graph above illustrates a traffic source report for a whole channel. So when you go to evaluate your own channel, make sure to keep an eye out for the fabulous three: YouTube Search, Suggested Videos, and Google Search.
If you see these prop up over time, then this is an evident signifier that your YouTube channel is growing successfully.
ASSESS HOW YOUR PERFORMANCE IS PROGRESSING OVER TIME
We’re nearly there! The final thing you need to master when strengthening your YouTube SEO is to establish whether your engagement is on a positive trajectory. Now let me explain this in more depth.
The metrics to care about here are ‘Watch Time’, and ‘Subscriber Numbers’. You want to see ‘Watch Time’ growing over time, and your subscriber base growing as well. The more engaged users are, the more content they will be watching. Inevitably, the very engaged users will eventually become subscribers.
This can be easily done through your report on the YouTube Analytics in the ‘Subscription Status’. You can view this through the lens of ‘Watch Time’. Ultimately, you should see a solid upward trajectory in terms of subscriber watch time. For non-subscribers, you want at least a static steady watch time performance that isn’t decreasing over time.
Refer to the image below for more guidance.
You can also track ‘Watch Time’ by traffic source. This helps you determine which avenues of discovery are leading to the best engagements with your content across the board.
Overall, the ‘Channel Growth’ report also shows us the trajectory of your subscriber numbers. Here, we want to see a graph going steadily up and to the right. Ideally moving towards that classic hockey stick shape. Good luck!
Congratulations! You have just been taught a detailed guide on Youtube SEO. Now it’s time to create an analytics strategy which is just right for you. Don’t forget to let your family and friends know about your newfound skills from a London Digital Marketing Agency. Also, be sure to let us know how you do on your YouTube SEO path. We’d love to hear about it!
If you want to take things further, you can pull some of this data into Google Data Studio and create a YouTube SEO dashboard. Here’s a template to get you started – just make a copy, then connect your YouTube channel to pull in the correct data!